Friends – Virtual or Real‏

A friend recently told me of her disappointment in the lack of responses she received from her friends after posting on Facebook that she was looking for assistance to repaint her apartment.  Not long after I came across the articles below and this got me thinking about how I approach my social networks, both online and in-person.

 Although the first article I’ve referenced is targeting why it’s better to be single, the part that caught my attention was point number 3 which states that single people often have stronger social networks than their married counterparts.   At first I found this statement surprising as I assumed that being in a relationship meant you have to juggle two social networks versus just developing your own.  However I can see how being in a couple can make it easy to stop socialising.  Being either too busy, too tired or just not so inclined become very good reasons to stop going out especially if you are not sitting home alone.

 The second article had me taking stock in my online friends trying to determine if, when the chips were down, who was virtual and who was real.  Could I name my 4 real friends? Did I have 4 real friends…??  I came to the realisation that the answer wasn’t simple.  Friendships definitely evolve as we do by growing up, growing apart and transitioning to networks where you share commonalities (marriage, kids, divorced etc..).  And just like a plant, or a child, they will not thrive without the proper attention.  But other factors like geography, finances and their own personal situations will also affect someone’s ability to ‘drop everything’ and help you out.  So I settled on the conclusion that there are too many external factors for me to properly assess what ‘real’ friendships I have.

 Maybe I settled on this because the phone rang (life called and it was time to get ‘back to it’) or as a way of softening the blow to my ego.  I’m not sure.  But I think these articles serves as a good reminder that, no matter what stage of life we are in, we need to cultivate both our online networks and the in-person networks.  Do you have any thoughts on this?

Blog Post 5 – COM0011: Social Media: Helping keep us in check

So 2016 is just over 2 weeks old.  For those of you who made resolutions, how are they going….?  I made two small resolutions this year; first to stop biting my nails and second to try and do something outside every day.  While these seemed like pretty small, achievable goals I’ve had to put more effort than I expected into making sure I stick to them.   So while considering what topic to write about this week I wondered how social media or the internet might be able to help me keep my goals.

As is turns out, there’s an app for that.  Well actually there’s many more than just one.  The Life Hacks article linked below reviews 20 out there ranging from free to pay for options.  Some of the options are quite creative and I’ve listed the top 5 that caught my attention:

    1. Aherk is a ‘self-blackmailing’ app which lets you design your goal, set deadlines and then have your Facebook friends judge your success. If you didn’t succeed then it will upload an embarrassing photo of you to Facebook. Of course you have to upload these photos onto the app first so you do have control over the content. I think this is a very interesting spin on keeping you in check and if you are motivated by what other people think then it could work for you. Hopefully your friends are as honest about judging your achievements as you are about inputting them.
    2. Lifetick, as stated on the site, is a goal setting web-based app which will give you email reminders for your goals and produce progress charts and graphs. This app requires you to put in a lot more information with a fair bit of work upfront but it gives you a more quantitative look at your results and progress.
    3. Habitforge uses the theory that it takes 21 days to make (or break) a habit and will send you an email reminder for 21 days to see how your goal is coming. You can join a group of people with the same goal, therefore getting some social and moral support, or you can go it alone. This app has a free option but also has an option you can pay for to get additional services.
    4. Social Workout is a free options that integrates with Facebook. It lets you socially set goals for any activity and allows you to start a group challenge to keep you motivated. It also sends you funny email reminders to keep you going.
    5. 21Habit is an app that also revolves round the 21 day timeframe. It has a free option but also a ‘committed’ option which involved you paying 21$ upfront. For every day you keep your habit you get a $1 back. For every day you miss, a dollar is donated to charity. Although this option isn’t as ‘social’ I think the idea behind it is quite creative.

There are also a lot of websites and blogs with tips to help you out.  After reading through a number some common tips pop out.  To take advantage of social media in helping you keep your goals you need to first be open about what you are trying to accomplish.  Posting your goal and then following it with regular updates is one way to go.  You can also find a group of people who will either cheer you on or want to do the same thing as you. Forming a closed group on Facebook and then updating each other as you work through your goals will definitely help.  Many fitness apps or products also have functions that let you form groups.  You can then see each other’s progress and comment on that.

One aspect that I think will be the hardest to do is being honest.  We usually don’t like posting negative or bad news and most of us find failing (or the perception of failing) hard to swallow.  This can make being honest about difficult days a challenge.  And if we aren’t honest about our progress then we likely won’t reach our goal.  So as I continue to contemplate which app or social media venue I will use to help me achieve my goals I’m wondering if there are any other recommendations out there?

Blog Post 4 – COM0011: Managing Negative Comments on Social Media

I work in an organization that has recently started being more proactive on Social Media.  Our initial plan was developed by a volunteer with an education in communication, public relations and social media however they have since departed the company.  Through other volunteers we have maintained the Facebook and Twitter accounts that were set up and are attempting to grow our online presence.   This past week we had our first encounter with negative comments in our closed group on Facebook.  Unfortunately the initial comment attracted a string of responses which grew progressively more negative and focused on specific individuals.

Shortly after the initial post was made our Facebook monitor posted a reminder that although people are entitled to their opinions, they are asked to keep the language respectable for all.  This comment by the administrator only served to inflame the situation.  The company monitored the thread for a few more hours before deciding to remove the entire thread and all comments.  We then posted a reminder of the intent of the group and a copy of the policies we adhere to when using Social Media.  As you can imagine a number of unhappy members expressed their dislike at being prevented from expressing their opinion.

This whole situation prompted the social media volunteer to do some research into how to handle these situations.  The link below lays out a number of steps to follow when trying to deal with negative comments and the company followed most of these.  Although a few individuals were contacted via messager concerning their comments the one area where we were reserved on was regularly engaging in dialogue with the participants.  The two posts I’ve mentioned were the extent of our response.  The main reason for this was our lack of confidence in our ability to deal with the rabbit holes such responses would lead us down.  Our company is now considering closing the Facebook group due to our concern over being able to handle future situations like this while avoiding bad public relations.

It’s a shame that one bad apple could result in the termination of a medium that wants to connect current and former employees and advertise information that is of interest to them.   So before we do this I am wondering if anyone has additional advice on how to deal with negative comments and interactions on social media?

COMM011 Blog Post 3- Social Media and the Single Parenting

The internet and social media have become a source of instant information and connections for all people.  However this blog post would like to focus on one category; that of the single parent.  While I don’t mean to imply at all that social media and the internet are not be used by all parents, this tool might be especially useful for someone who does not always have an extra pair of hands to help them or provide advice.  First, the ability to quickly contact your already existing community is a real advantage.  Through Social Media you can also keep current on who might be (or who has) gone through the same experiences as a parent that you have.
A second way that social media can help the single parent is by making them aware of new networks they can join.  Finding other people close by which are going through the same thing you are is a real comfort.  Most cities or communities offer many programs and as they (the communities) become more ‘plugged-in’ the services they offer are more easily accessed and further advertised.
The third benefit I’d like to point out can often be seen as a negative point if misused or overly trusted.  That is using the internet and your social network for medical advice and tips.  If taken as gospel and not checked with a doctor, this can be risky as websites and groups can make opinions or experiences sound like researched fact however for quick tips on potentially common problems, certain websites are a good first stop.
Not being a parent myself, I have only formed these opinions through seeing my friends and family go through the steps of parenthood themselves.  And by watching this I have seen some very different uses of the internet to help. A few websites that i have come across or seen used are below.    My question to you is do you think social media is a useful, safe tool for single parents?
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COM0011: Shutting down Wi-Fi in an Emergency

The attacks in Paris last month reiterated the need for, and importance of, cities (or even countries) having an emergency management plan which addresses the use of social media and the internet.  A number of news stories, which have highlighted positive and negative uses of social media during a crisis, have been published since then.  Having read stories which highlight both sides of the use of social media, I am torn between which view is the best; should the internet and social media be restricted during an emergency or should access to it be increased immediately following a crisis?


Immediately following the attacks many people took to social media to find out if friends or family in the area were ok.  A very positive aspect of most people having cellphones and internet access was the ability for them to communicate where and how they were.  In addition the “Safety Check” function on Facebook made it easy for friends to let their contacts know they were ok.  The CBC article (link below) also explains how businesses including Starbucks in Manhattan opened their Wi-Fi networks to all after the Sep 11, 2001 attacks when the cellular networks went down.  Without this access many people would have struggled for hours trying to communicate with family.  My first reaction to reading this was thinking that it was nice to see people and communities work together.  However I also saw an article about the subsequent raids in Brussels where the police asked the public not to post related information on social media.   A reason for this, of course, was to not give away any ongoing police operations in the hopes of avoiding tipping off any suspects and/or causing harm to police officers conducting raids.  One of the results of this request on social media was a trend dubbed the #brusselslockdown where citizens posted pictures of their pets.  France’s consideration of restricting public Wi-Fi during an emergency goes along these lines; to prevent suspects from using Wi-Fi that is difficult to track.


Both approaches seem to make sense depending on what role you play during a crisis.  So with this in mind, my question to you is should Wi-Fi and social media use be restricted or unrestricted during emergencies?  And would legislation restricting the use of Wi-Fi or social media infringe on people’s rights?

Job Hunting and Social Media – COM0011

Although I am of the generation which grew up as social media was taking off I still find myself hesitant and curious about the ability to find work using tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.  Part of this hesitation comes from having never tried however some of my hesitation is based on the requirement to post your life (or professional) resume on these sites therefore making a lot of personal information public.  I have seen a number of blog posts discussing the security of online information and the fact that you have to be very cognizant about what you post.  I have also had a first encounter with a new boss start with the link “so I googled your name and this is what came up..”.  All of this makes me wonder how safe (and successful) it really is to look for work using these tools.

As I’m sure is obvious to most, there are an endless number of references on this subject.  After reading a few, the main tips I picked up were:

  • Frequent updates and current information. Keeping your accounts up to date with current information is crucial. Also, frequently visiting your profile or using the tool (following on Twitter or posting questions on Facebook) is very important as it’s usually quite obvious when an account has been inactive for a period of time.
  • Networking and being proactive. Simply having a profile or account set up on social media tools is not enough. You have to be proactive (vs. passive) in searching for jobs and learning about employers as well as using your network to meet ‘friends of friends’ who may share your interest or have information in a field you are considering. You need to send out or post inquiries about what you are looking for or hoping to find.
  • Don’t use just one form of social media. Before I did any research I assumed that Linkedin was the tool that should be used for job hunting. While this is correct, it is not complete. Facebook and twitter (and probably a number of other tools I am still not familiar with) can be equally as useful in providing information and new connections. In fact, using all at once will maximize networking.

linked in

Now that I’ve written out my 3 main take aways I feel as if this is really common sense.  However without going through the research process I know I wouldn’t have realized them all before starting a job hunt.  So I am curious if anyone has had any experience (and success) in using social media to find work.  And if so, or even if not, do you have any recommendations or tips that would boost the chances of someone being successful.